Oh goody, another “drive-thru”…

Well, it’s probably better than finding out that another business “went under” or left town:

Panera Bread Round Lake Beach Drive-Thru Now Open!

On Wednesday, November 9, the Panera Bread® Round Lake Beach bakery-café celebrated the opening of their new drive-thru. Round Lake Beach residents and village officials came together to celebrate the grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Panera Bread in Round Lake Beach is delighted to offer its customers a more convenient way to purchase their breakfast, lunch and dinner at the drive-thru.

Panera Bread Round Lake Beach Ribbon Ceremony:

Some of the notable attendees (pictured above) included Mayor Richard H. Hill, Chief of Police Gary Bitler, Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District Chief Paul Maplethorpe, Trustee Tom L. Smith’s and wife Marsha, Trustee Judy Armstrong, Trustee Sue Butler, Trustee Sylvia Valadez, Interim Public Works Director Gary Gramhofer, RLB Cultural and Civic Center Facility Manager Monica Marr, RLB Director of Inspection Services Margaret Sparr, John Wildenberg of the RLB Economic Development Department, and Megan – a Make-A-Wish Child. The Round Lake Beach bakery-café is proud to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation®, and raise money for wish children like Megan.

The Panera Bread Round Lake Beach bakery-café is located at 254 E Rollins Rd, and can be reached directly at (847) 270-9683. For more information on Panera Bread, visit http://www.panera-chicago.com

Ironically, Panera Bread provides some of the only local “place” in town. Visit during any evening and you’ll find the place packed with college students (“study-buddies”) working on projects, business-folk meeting clients or partners, Bible-study groups, new-mom support groups” and of course miscellaneous hungry people looking for a nice spot for some coffee and a snack, or a light dinner.

The “Community Room” is a major contribution to the civic life of the Round Lake Beach residents, as it is made available at no cost to whatever groups which to use it; the sign-up list shows at least 3-5 meetings per day. Thumbs-up to Panera for their civic-mindedness! (They also donate unsold goods at the end of the day to various food pantries.)

Why is Panera so popular with residents and business people looking for a place to meet? Well, what else have we got?

Anyway, back to the drive-thru aspect. It’s the first Panera with a drive-thru in Illinois. Good for them, and I’m legitimately glad business is good enough in this economy to support the expansion, and the obvious commitment of the owner(s) to stay in Round Lake Beach. I attend about one meeting per week there, and always make a purchase.

But the point of this post isn’t about the business, it’s about the Village’s response to the opening of the drive-thru (which itself is only an ADDITION to the already-existing business)! It is especially telling when compared to how pedestrian-unfriendly and bicycle-unfriendly the infrastructure is in connecting residential areas to commercial areas. Look at the picture above again… that’s the turn-out of Village officials you get for the ground-breaking of a new FACTORY. (Is it wrong to cheer even a small “victory” in tough economic times? No. Is the response maybe a little out-of-proportion?)

Still no bicycle rack (even though it is basically across the street from RLB’s own B&G Cyclery), and no real way for pedestrians to walk safely to the Panera from the original part of town south of Rollins Road, or from the Country Walk subdivision to the north. “Pedestrians not invited?”

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